By Katharina Nassentein

British flag

Before I came to the UK on the ERASMUS scheme 2 years ago, my fellow German students and I felt we were quite well prepared in regards to British culture, customs and traditions.

Our lecturers at home told us to be polite at all times yet indirect (“even if you write a complaint, never forget to say please”), never stare at fellow passengers on public transport and be aware that British humour might be very different to ours. In fact, one of my British teachers accused Germans of not having a sense of humour at all…

Dog on the beach

So, on my first day here, when a male shop assistant addressed me as  “love”, I was very surprised and didn’t quite know if I should feel like he’d made a sexist remark, or be happy that I’d been warmly greeted by a stranger. After all, hadn’t I been told that Britons tend to be stiff, reserved and don’t like showing affection, except to their pets?

After a few weeks I found out there are numerous terms of endearment used throughout the UK.  Darling, honey, flower, pet, babes and sweetheart, being but a few of them.

Over time, I’ve gotten used to these kinds of pet names. However, I can’t help feeling slightly patronised and a little confused when someone the same age as me (or even younger!) calls me ‘hun’.

Ultimately, having spent most of my life in Germany, I will probably not start using such  over familiar pet names myself any time soon except with  my boyfriend, close family , or a young child.

It makes me feel nostalgic for the times I’ve been shopping in Germany and have heard a grumpy shop assistant shouting “NEXT!”

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